Surfshark vs Tunnelbear – Which is Better?

Surfshark vs Tunnelbear – Which is Better?

July 25, 2023 privacy 0

Surfshark and Tunnelbear are two of the most popular budget-friendly VPNs available. 

Tunnelbear feels like it’s been around forever, offering free and low-cost VPN tools since way back in 2011. Surfshark, on the other hand, is a much younger VPN – but its star has risen fast. It regularly ranks amongst the best VPNs in the world. 

So, in a head-to-head battle, which VPN comes out on top? 

We’ve run a series of side-by-side tests comparing Surfshark and Tunnelbear based on security, privacy, access to streaming content, speed, value for money, and much more. 

You can read the results in this quick guide. 

Surfshark vs Tunnelbear – Which is best? 

Surfshark beats Tunnelbear on every metric.

It has better security, better customer support, more servers in more locations, and it can access far more streaming services. 

Tunnelbear might be the older, more well-known VPN. But don’t let that fool you. It hasn’t kept up with the competition in years. Meanwhile, Surfshark is one of the most advanced VPNs available and keeps adding to its already extensive suite of security and privacy tools.

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Surfshark is significantly better value than Tunnelbear on every plan. You get more features, unlimited devices, more servers, and much more.  

Surfshark is also cheaper than Tunnelbear on every plan but the monthly option. Tunnelbear’s one-month plan costs $9.99, compared to $12.95 with Surfshark. We’ll admit this is an expensive plan, but as soon as you sign up longer term, Surfshark gets much cheaper.

The lowest cost plan on Surfshark works out at $2.49 per month. It includes unlimited device connections and plenty of other benefits. In contrast, Tunnelbear’s cheapest plan is $3.30 per month and only covers five devices.

Tunnelbear does have a free VPN plan, but we don’t recommend it. You can only use 500MB per month, which you’ll finish in an hour, it has a tiny server network, and it’s not compatible with Netflix (or any other streamer). There’s really no reason to use Tunnelbear’s free version unless you’re trying a VPN for the first time. But Surfshark is easy enough for complete beginners to master in minutes, so don’t waste your time. 

So, on every plan – including the monthly option – Surfshark is far better value than Tunnelbear.

Winner: Surfshark

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Which has better features? 

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Surfshark includes significantly more security features and tools than Tunnelbear. 

To start with, while both have support for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and web browsers, Surfshark also supports Linux and Amazon Fire TV.

Split tunneling is available across all of Surfshark’s apps, while Tunnelbear only provides it on Android. Split tunneling allows you to filter some of your web traffic through the VPN while keeping some on your local connection. This is handy if, for example, you want to watch Netflix US from Europe while still using your internet banking and maps apps. 

Surfshark also allows you to install on an unlimited number of devices, compared to Tunnelbear’s limit of five. This restriction alone makes Surfshark the better value for money, but it went ahead and added malware filtering, online tracking and ad blockers, and a stealth mode that Tunnelbear does not have.

But we’re only scratching the surface. As you’ll see throughout this review, Surfshark is full of advanced security, privacy, P2P, and streaming tools that will transform your experience online. Tunnelbear, on the other hand, offers the most basic features imaginable.

Winner: Surfshark

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Are routers supported?

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Only Surfshark has router support. 

You can easily configure its app on your router to protect every device in your home network (including phones, laptops, smart TVs, game consoles, and more). While the setup is more technical than other devices, installing Surfshark on a router makes it easier to protect every device you use without installing individual apps on each one. 

You can install Surfshark on your router via MacOS and Windows devices.

Tunnelbear does not officially support routers.

Winner: Surfshark

[[post-object type=”gotolink” provider=”surfshark” class=”btn btn-md btn-primary”]]Get Surfshark[[/post-object]]

What websites do they unblock? 

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There’s no contest when it comes to unblocking streaming: Surfshark is clearly the superior VPN. 

Surfshark can access any streaming site anywhere in the world, including big players like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and more. It also works with regional and local streaming sites. Throughout our tests, we used Surfshark to stream TV shows online in Japan, Australia, Germany, and the UK.

Additionally, Surfshark’s Smart DNS feature helps you bypass VPN restrictions on devices like smart TVs and streaming sites like Netflix that invest a tonne of money in blocking VPNs. Its Stealth Mode uses obfuscated servers that further hide the fact you’re even using a VPN. 

In contrast, Tunnelbear is terrible at accessing streaming content. It only works with two streaming sites – Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer – and even with those, it’s unreliable. If you’re using a VPN for streaming, don’t waste your time. Just skip it and install Surfshark or another top streaming VPN.

Not to mention, Surfshark is faster, and you can install it on unlimited devices. This is great for families who want to stream privately without paying for multiple VPN subscriptions.

Winner: Surfshark

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Netflix libraries

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If you’re a Netflix enthusiast seeking international content, Surfshark is the top choice between the two. Tunnelbear has limited success in accessing Netflix libraries – in our tests, it only managed to access Netflix’s US libraries consistently. 

Surfshark could access numerous Netflix libraries, including the US, UK, Japan, Australia, and Germany. 

Winner: Surfshark

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Torrenting capabilities

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Surfshark and Tunnelbear both allow torrenting on their servers, making them suitable for P2P file sharing.

However, Surfshark offers many more features unavailable on Tunnelbear – such as port selection and port forwarding – that are useful for advanced P2P users who want faster file sharing without compromising your privacy.

Surfshark also offers dedicated servers for P2P activities, which ensure faster and more reliable torrenting speeds. Tunnelbear doesn’t have dedicated servers. And even though both offer an automatic kill-switch that blocks your internet in case of a sudden VPN connection drop (so you’re torrenting is never exposed to your internet service provider), Tunnelbear’s VigilantBear is not designed explicitly for torrenting and offers less protection than Surfshark.

Winner: Surfshark

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Setup & usability

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Surfshark and Tunnelbear have easy-to-follow setup processes and user-friendly apps that anyone can navigate – even if you’ve never used a VPN. 

Both VPNs have dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and browser extensions. But only Surfshark is compatible with Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and smart TVs.

Tunnelbear’s user experience is arguably easier, with its visually appealing design and simplicity. However, Surfshark includes advanced features with clear explanations, making it easy to customize your experience. 

Surfshark also has 24/7 live chat support, which offers quick assistance. Tunnelbear relies on email support and a chatbot for FAQs.

Overall, both Surfshark and Tunnelbear boast a user-friendly setup and intuitive apps, but Surfshark has a slight edge due to its broader device compatibility and better customer support options.

Winner: Surfshark

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Mobile features

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Surfshark and Tunnelbear closely match up when it comes to mobile features on iOS and Android. Tunnelbear’s apps are known for their simplicity and intuitive design. Surfshark’s apps are user-friendly and packed with extra features.

Both VPNs include an automatic kill-switch for both iOS and Android (called VigilantBear on Tunnelbear). 

However, Surfshark’s mobile apps offer more advanced features, such as GPS spoofing (Android only) and the Clean Web feature, blocking ads and malicious websites on mobile. 

This gives Surfshark a slight edge in terms of advanced functionality and user experience.

Winner: Surfshark

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Performance & speed

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Surfshark has over 3,200 servers in 100+ countries. Tunnelbear has 3,000+ servers in just 45+ countries. So, while they have an almost equal number of servers, Surfshark’s network is spread across twice as many countries. This guarantees faster, more reliable speeds anywhere in the world. 

Throughout our tests, Surfshark delivered much better speeds, fast enough to stream in HD, torrent, video call, download, etc., without lag, buffering, or delay. We can’t say the same for Tunnelbear, which was much slower. 

Surfshark’s larger global network also makes it easier to get around censorship and geo-restrictions in certain regions and countries. 

Surfshark also lets you manually select which VPN protocol it uses (WireGuard, OpenVPN, or IKEv2), so you can find the best one for your location. Tunnelbear has no such option. 

So, when it comes to fast, secure, reliable connections – Surfshark is the clear winner. 

Winner: Surfshark

[[post-object type=”gotolink” provider=”surfshark” class=”btn btn-md btn-primary”]]Get Surfshark[[/post-object]]


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Surfshark and Tunnelbear both support OpenVPN and IKEv2 VPN protocols, but Surfshark also includes WireGuard – which is much more advanced and works best with streaming and gaming. 

Also, Surfshark lets you decide which protocol you want to use, based on your preferences. Frustratingly, Tunnelbear automatically decides which protocol is fastest when you connect to its apps. Beginner users probably won’t mind this, as it gives you the fastest connection, but it could mean less security. 

Both VPNs implement Perfect Forward Secrecy on OpenVPN, adding a good layer of security. They both use AES 256-bit encryption, but Tunnelbear downgrades to L2TP/IPSec (much less secure) on iOS for some reason.

You also get an automatic kill-switch in your desktop and iOS apps to prevent data from leaking for even a second if your VPN connection fails. This is a critical feature if you’re using the VPN in a country where they’re banned, or you’re getting around censorship, like in China, Iran, or the UAE. 

Finally, both Surfshark and Tunnelbear run their own DNS servers. This means they process your DNS queries (tied to your location) privately, instead of relying on third parties like Google or your internet service provider.

So, while it looks close, overall, Surfshark’s security tools are more advanced and offer greater customization. We’re also more confident it will keep up with the latest changes and threats in the online space. Tunnelbear is a much older VPN and seems to rely on its reputation more than providing advanced protections.

Winner: Surfshark

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Tunnelbear and Surfshark provide decent privacy. 

Neither stores usage logs that can be traced to you or your online activities. While both VPNs record minimal data, such as connection logs, these are necessary to run the software and can never reveal anything significant about your browsing, location, or identity to outside parties. 

Privacy nuts might be concerned about Tunnelbear’s location: it’s based in Canada, part of the (previously secret) Five Eyes international surveillance alliance. While we’re confident it lives up to its privacy promises and will never expose your data, we prefer VPNs based in more privacy-friendly locations. Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands – one of the most private places on Earth.

Surfshark and Tunnelbear have both undergone independent audits to verify their privacy claims and ensure there are no vulnerabilities in their networks. However, Surfshark has been audited much more often and recently (early 2023), and even had its server infrastructure checked. 

Both VPNs also allow anonymous payment methods, including Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum – in case you want zero trace you signed up. Tunnelbear claims to accept payment in jars of honey, but it is unclear how many jars are required or how you’ll ship them to Canada. But you can try and let us know how it goes!

Finally, Surfshark’s network runs on diskless, RAM-only servers that are automatically wiped regularly and can be instantly unplugged in an emergency (like a raid on a server location). 

So, for its more advanced privacy, location, and third-party audits, we’re giving this round to Surfshark.

Winner: Surfshark

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Customer service

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Surfshark offers much better customer support than Tunnelbear. 

It has 24/7 live chat support with knowledgeable agents who can help with most things. However, highly technical questions may require starting a ticket or waiting for an email response.

Tunnelbear’s live chat is operated by a bot that provides links to FAQs and guides. To contact an actual human agent, you must start a support ticket and wait for an email response. That said, we had no trouble communicating with them via email, and representatives answered most of our questions.

Both VPNs have searchable knowledge bases with plenty of helpful setup guides and FAQs. But overall, Surfshark offers more reliable and responsive support through its live chat.

Winner: Surfshark

[[post-object type=”gotolink” provider=”surfshark” class=”btn btn-md btn-primary”]]Get Surfshark[[/post-object]]

Methodology: how we compare VPNs

We used strict criteria to test Surfshark and Tunnelbear before deciding on the best VPN. This is the same criteria we’ve used on every VPN review published on ProPrivacy. 

Here’s a brief overview of what we look at: 

  • Server network: The best VPNs have thousands of servers located in countries across the globe, guaranteeing reliable connections anywhere. 
  • Connection speeds: We only recommend VPNs that have a small impact on your internet speed. Some will even speed up your connection by avoiding ISP throttling. 
  • Security: Our favorite VPNs utilize industry-best technology like 256-bit AES encryption, DNS/IPv6 leak protection, automatic kill switches, and much more. 
  • Privacy tools: Look for VPNs that include extras like built-in ad blockers, malware detection, RAM-only servers, and dark web monitoring. 
  • Access to content: We test every VPN against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and other streamers to ensure they get you access from anywhere. 
  • Value: The best VPNs have simple, flexible plans that get cheaper the longer you subscribe, and generous money-back guarantees (at least 30 days). 
  • Ease of use: Just because VPNs are complicated tech, doesn’t mean they should be difficult to use. We only recommend VPNs that complete novices can use. 
  • Customer support: You should have access to live chat support with real humans, available 24/7, extensive knowledge bases, tutorials, and much more. 
  • Privacy policies: We read every privacy policy so you don’t have to, guaranteeing it’s transparent, straightforward, and ensures your privacy. 

You can read our complete VPN review process to learn more about the whole process and run some tests of your own. Or just save yourself a lot of time and download Surfshark. 


When you compare them side-by-side, it’s easy to see that Surfhark is a far better VPN than Tunnelbear in almost every aspect. 

Surfshark offers better value, security, performance, speed, user experience, and access to content. It’s more transparent, with better apps for unlimited devices. 

With Surfshark, you can access almost every streaming site online. With Tunnelbear, you can access almost none. 

We’ll stop there. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve read the results and can see for yourself that Surfshark is the best budget VPN in the world. Try it out risk-free thanks to its generous 30-day money-back guarantee, and see for yourself. 

Or read some more side-by-side comparisons of the best VPNs, in case you’re curious about other options: 

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